Taxpayers of Wisconsin finally got a look at the long-overdue report on Wisconsin’s contracting with private sector providers on July 3, and it might give us a better understanding of why the Walker Administration stonewalled the report until after the election.
The amount of money the state spent on private sector contracts shot up 17 percent last year alone, to $488.9 million. And contracting out by state agencies increased by a whopping 26 percent.
Union Labor News readers will recall that the Legislatively-mandated report was due last October, but there was no response to repeated inquiries about it to the Walker Administration from unions and members of the Legislature. On June 1, union activists staged a noontime picket outside the Department of Administration Building on East Wilson Street in Madison, to call attention to the fact and a local newspaper followed up with a story.
DOA finally attempted to sneak the report out, as a poorly-copied pdf file posted online, over the Fourth of July holiday, probably hoping no one would notice. Laughably, the report summary compared the current spending levels to the peak year of 2005, to try to make the claim that spending was down this year. But, somebody noticed.
Unions and good government advocates pore over the annual report to identify cases of wasteful and inefficient contracting out. The reports are usually difficult to decipher since DOA has a tendency to hide some contracts under categories they think are not required in the report to the Legislature. In addition, the so-called “cost- benefit analyses” that some agencies are determine whether the required to use to contracted work could be done better and at lower cost by regular state employees are often flawed.
The current report only covers the period from July 2010 through June 2011, but the trend seems apparent. The next report, covering the year ending last month, is due October 15.